Argentina updates protocol assuring abortion access for rape victims

Alberto fernandez assumes the office of President of Argentina Dec 10 2019 Credit Casa Rosada CC BY 25 AR Alberto Fernandez assumes the office of President of Argentina, Dec. 10, 2019. | Casa Rosada (CC BY 2.5 AR).

The administration of Argentine president Alberto Fernández, who took office last week, has updated the country's abortion protocol to guarantee access to abortion to women who have been raped.

Argentine law allows abortion in cases when the mother's life or health is in danger, or in cases of rape. But pro-choice activists maintain that it has not in fact been accessible because of hospitals' discretion and conscientious objection.

Health minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia stated: "the protocol will be used as a guide, especially in cases where the law clearly allows for the interruption of pregnancies".

"We are respectful of conscientious objection but conscientious objection cannot be used as an institutional alibi for not complying with the law", Gonzalez added.

Fernández, of the Justicialist Party, assumed office Dec. 10. He has also announced plans to decriminalize abortion.

A bill to legalize abortion through the first 14 weeks of gestation narrowly passed the Chamber of Deputies in 2018, but was rejected by the Senate.

In May, an obstetrician-gynecologist was found guilty of having prevented an abortion, after he decided in May 2017 to save the life of an unborn baby whose mother had taken misoprostol. Dr. Leandro Rodríguez Lastra was found guilty of failing to carry out his duty as a public functionary, as he was not registered as a conscientious objector. The child was eventually adopted.

And in March, the Archbishop of Tucumán called on society to be committed to protecting life, after an 11-year-old rape victim received a Caesarean section.

He encouraged the faithful to care for the life "of every child, of every adolescent, of every elderly person, of every sick person," and daily "to protect, to care for, to serve, every human life, because every life has value."

"It is very important to be called together in prayer, but for this prayer to become a real commitment to protect every human life and defend every human life with passion, courage and with much generosity and dedication," he added.

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